Good start for Canada at Universiade

 KAZAN, Russia (July 6, 2013) – The Canadian men’s volleyball team opened Group D competition at the 27th Summer Universiade with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-16) victory on Saturday.

Left side Nicholas Hoag of Sherbrooke, Que. (Sherbrooke College), led the winners with eight kills in the match, while middle blocker Braden McLean of Birch Hills, Sask. (University of Saskatchewan), added six kills, two service aces and two blocks. Jay Blankenau of Calgary (Calgary) recorded 22 assists.

“I’m pretty relieved that we are starting,” said head coach Larry McKay from the University of Winnipeg. “We were in the village for a few days and we were anxious to begin. We played a good team and we were prepared to play well. It was the beginning for us and we will build on that. I think we’ll need to be better than we were today.”

Canada had control throughout all three sets leading by no less than two points and only surrendering the lead three times early in the first and second games.

In the first set, Canada opened by capitalizing on three straight United Arab Emirates errors to be the first to eight and 16 points. The Canucks kept a double-digit lead throughout until a Hoag attack froze the UAE back line to win 25-14.

The opponents combined for six service errors on the first 14 points of the second set to sit tied 7-7. Canada scored the next five points on the strength of three attacks from the middle by Daniel Jansen Van Doorn of Langley, B.C. (Trinity Western). With the cushion, Canada sailed to the 25-16 victory.

UAE’s Amer Ghulam Almarzooqi received a red card for unsportsman-like action to give the Canadians a 6-1 advantage to start the final set. Losing a starting player motivated UAE and the country outscored Canada 5-2 on the next seven plays. But after the UAE rally, the red and white scored the next five straight points to once again extend to a large lead and win 25-16.

“It was important for us to start strong and I think we did it,” said Hoag, the son of senior national team head coach Glenn Hoag. “We established our reception and it helped us to set our offence. We made mistakes but we managed to get the service back quickly.”

Canada is looking for a podium spot for the second time in the last four Universiade tournaments.  After claiming a silver medal in 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand, the Canucks finished sixth in 2009 in Belgrade, Serbia, and barely missed the podium in 2011 in China, taking fourth place.

Next up for the Canadian men is Mexico (1-0) Sunday at 8 p.m. local (noon ET).

BOXSCORE: Canada vs UAE